Friday, January 24, 2020

Review: The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot

The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot
Amazon
From The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, by Robert Macfarlane:

Open quote 

The literature of wayfaring is long, existing as poems, songs, stories, treatises and route guides, maps, novels and essays. The compact between writing and walking is almost as old as literature—a walk is only a step away from a story, and every path tells."

It's a nature book. And a book of geology, history, archaeology, literature, and poetry. It's a journal of walks in Britain, Palestine, Spain, and China. And a vocabulary builder to boot. B-

Thursday, January 23, 2020

POTD: Urubamba Pottery

From 2019 08 18 Sacred Valley, Peru

Today's photo-of-the-day is from a pottery shop in Urubamba, Peru. I show it partly to recognize the skill of artisans, but mostly just because I like to say Urubamba.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Best Romantic Movies of All Time*

* Like love itself, a personal choice


This article was originally published in "Richardson Living" magazine. Read it on that website or in the print edition. Or read it here.

The saying, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," applies not just to love, but to movies as well. Putting together a list of the best romantic movies of all time is an invitation for criticism. There are so many great movies to choose from that many readers' personal favorites are bound to be snubbed. I'm of a certain age, so younger readers might not even have heard of some of my selections. You see the challenges. Anyway, here goes.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Report (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Report (2019): Dramatization of Senate's study into CIA's illegal and ineffective torture program and its cover-up. The CIA, DOJ and both Bush and Obama White Houses all look bad here. An important movie if too dry. Adam Driver is only actor with any life and that barely. B-




Monday, January 20, 2020

POTD: Ollantaytambo

From 2019 08 18 Sacred Valley, Peru

Today's photo-of-the-day is not Machu Picchu. The Incans were nothing if not prolific city builders in places no rational person would think to put a building. These photos are from Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of Peru, another impressive archaeological site. You might say this is where the Incan empire died. Ollantaytambo served as a center of Incan resistance to the Spanish conquest.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

POTD: Maras Woman

From 2019 08 18 Sacred Valley, Peru

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the town square of Maras in southern Peru. Compare with Chinchero Woman. In my judgment, the women of Peru have the best hats of anyone in the world.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

POTD: Moray

From 2019 08 18 Sacred Valley, Peru

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Moray Inca ruins in southern Peru. The exact use by the Incans is a mystery. Agriculture, sure, but they went out of their way to make the site more interesting — architecturally and artistically — than would have been needed just to grow potatoes or corn.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019): More of the same. Battles with everything from light sabers and blasters to flaming arrows against a fleet of star destroyers. No one stays dead, no one stays alive. Don't ask me who's related to whom. I don't care anymore. C-

P.S. I confess that during the climax's fiery destruction of the Final Order's home base, I privately imagined that George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch was burning instead.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

I Lost My Body (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
I Lost My Body (2019): French. The strangest animated feature of the year. Like "Lassie Come Home" but instead of a lost pet, it's a severed hand that seeks to return to its body. Accept it on its own terms and it's not ghoulish, it's sweet and even hopeful. But it is strange. B-

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Oscar Snubs

The 2020 Oscar nominations are out. As always, some worthy movies are snubbed. Before these movies unloved by Oscar are forgotten forever, here are some, in no particular order, that The Wheel recommends catching wherever they are streaming. These movies received an "A-" grade by The Wheel.

The snubs are after the jump.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

1917 (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
1917 (2019): Two soldiers in race against time through no-man's land in WWI. 110 minutes of continuous intensity. Reminded me of Dunkirk. The praised long tracking shot became tiresome. Any WWI movie that doesn't end in senseless total disaster is false but still worth seeing. B+

Monday, January 13, 2020

POTD: Marasal

From 2019 08 18 Sacred Valley, Peru

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the salt evaporation ponds of Maras, Peru. They have been in use since Inca times and are still actively used today. The salt ponds are interesting by themselves, but their location makes them worth a visit just for the scenery. Terraced on a steep hillside in a canyon, the view is stunning.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

POTD: Machu Picchu in Stained Glass

From 2019 08 18 Sacred Valley, Peru

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the lobby of Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel in Peru. The sprawling hotel and grounds, almost a resort, is beautiful. It makes a great "base camp" for exploring the Sacred Valley. That's Machu Picchu in stained glass in the hotel lobby.

A closeup photo after the jump.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

POTD: Chicón

From 2019 08 18 Sacred Valley, Peru

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Sacred Valley in Peru. It's a highway overlook, showing Chicón, an 18,140 ft high mountain peak of the Andes Mountains.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Friday, January 10, 2020

POTD: Chinchero Woman

From 2019 08 18 Sacred Valley, Peru

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Chinchero in southern Peru.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Bombshell (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Bombshell (2019): Dramatization of sexual harrassment at Fox News. Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly bring down Roger Ailes. Movie builds tension as stakes grow. For me it's not a satisfactory ending. Fox News is still #1 and the harrasser-in-chief is more powerful than ever. B+




Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Richardson City Council Goals - Part 3

The Richardson City Council recently decided on the City's 2019-2021 Statement of Goals. There's so much to say, this blog post comes in three parts. Part 1 covered the process. Part 2 covered the (in)significant changes from last year. Today, I close with my biggest disappointment.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Richardson City Council Goals - Part 2

The Richardson City Council recently decided on the City's 2019-2021 Statement of Goals. There's so much to say that this blog post comes in three parts. Part 1 covered the process. In part 2, I cover the (in)significant changes since last year's goals. Tomorrow I'll close with my biggest disappointment.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Richardson City Council Goals - Part 1


The Richardson City Council recently decided on the City's 2019-2021 Statement of Goals. There's so much to say about it. Where to start? Let's break this blog post into three parts, starting easy, with process. I'll move on to covering the (in)significant changes from last year, then close with my biggest disappointment.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

POTD: Toritos de Pucará

From 2019 08 18 Sacred Valley, Peru

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Chinchero in the Sacred Valley in Peru. It shows two clay Pucara Bulls on a rooftop. It could be any of countless rooftops in central and southern Peru. The two bulls are placed on the roof when a new house is completed, a promise of protection, happiness, and fertility within.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

POTD: Llama, Llama, Llama

From 2019 08 18 Sacred Valley, Peru

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Sacred Valley in the Andes Mountains of Peru. You know what that means. Llamas. If this photo doesn't get you excited about that, maybe the Llama Song will.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Cats (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Cats (2019): The costumes/makeup/CGI is distracting. The comic relief doesn't work (dancing cockroaches?). The plot is thin. But so? Cats is what it is, a musical made from a book of poetry about cats. It's always been about the singing and dancing. Critics hate it. I like it. B+

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Two Popes (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Two Popes (2019): Conversations between Benedict and Francis when Benedict decided to retire. Two very different men, with different philosophies, portrayed by two great actors. Only action comes from flashbacks to Francis's early career, which deserve their own movie. B+

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Random Thoughts: Big Ten Football in the Snow

Tweets from December, 2019:
  • 2019-12-01: Big Ten football in the snow. Wisconsin gets Paul Bunyan's Axe, clinches Big Ten West championship and a place in the Big Ten title game.
  • 2019-12-01: The Irishman (2019): Scorsese directs De Niro, Pacino, Pesci (that's all you need) in a 3.5 hour intimate epic (there can be such a thing) about the mob and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. A disapproving look from De Niro's daughter, just a look, supplies the morality. A-
  • 2019-12-03: Ford v Ferrari (2019): A sports movie. A good one, but still. Predictable plot. Two-dimensional characters. Clichéd dialog. The guys from Ford are supposed to be the good guys, but I found myself cheering for the "wops" from Ferrari. Good performance by Christian Bale. B-
  • 2019-12-06: The Sixth Extinction: Global warming, ocean acidification, crop and animal disease, poor land use patterns, all are involved in extinctions rivaling the death of the dinosaurs. Why don't we act? If anything, this book is not alarmist enough. B-

After the jump, more idle thoughts.